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Somalia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) exerts limited authority outside of the capital, Mogadishu, and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's leadership is undermined by personal rivalries, opposition from clans, the semi-autonomous federal member states (FMS), and foreign governments. Disputes between the FGS and FMS stem from candidate selection for the regional elections, the framework for conducting national legislative and presidential elections in 2020–21. Jihadist militant group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) will continue to hold significant territory in southern Somalia and have the ability to conduct mortar attacks and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks and follow-up small-arms assaults in Mogadishu. Targets are international and government assets and personnel, except in Somaliland, which is more secure.The Somali National Army (SNA) is deployed in Jubaland’s Gedo region and it fought against Jubaland security forces around Baladhawo next to the Kenyan border in February and March 2020. Recent political changes have led to a general consensus between the FGS and FMS to move forward with a clan based model for forthcoming national elections which should now become the main focus.Piracy syndicates based in Mudug region in April 2019 briefly resumed targeting commercial vessels to kidnap crew members and demand ransom payments. IHS Markit sources report they have since reverted to more profitable criminal activities. The hijack of the Sri Lankan-flagged tanker Aris 13 in March 2017 is still the most recent successful hijack of a commercially significant vessel since May 2012. Somalia’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid and remittances, as well as excise and duty charges at seaports and airports. However, a global slowdown in economic growth is likely to reduce remittance contributions from the Somali diaspora in 2020, and COVID-19 virus-related cargo disruption will reduce expected tax collection from imports and exports.
Last update: September 26, 2020

Operational Outlook

 

The level of activity this week dropped by 20%, and the 37 reported incidents is a continuation of the decrease in reported activity registered the previous week, marking another fall since the 35 incidents recorded during the first week of Sep 2020.

Threat reporting still suggests that AS's main effort will be to disrupt the upcoming national electoral process with the continued infiltration of Amniyat operatives into Mogadishu to carry out CQA, IED and suicide attacks. Threat warnings of further possible PBIED and VBIED attacks remain extant, as it is likely that, due to the precarious security situation in some of the regional states, a substantial part of the electoral process may be held in what is perceived as a better secured Mogadishu. Substantiating the extant VBIED threat, there were unconfirmed reports of a VBIED being moved on Nov 12, from Bay province into Mogadishu with the intent to be used when the opportunity arises. No new spectacular attacks or incidents involving suicide explosive attacks occurred in Mogadishu since Nov 17 PBIED incident. However, the situation changed with the Nov 27, late evening attack, when at approximately 1948hrs, a PBIED exploded in the vicinity of the Gelato Divino Cafeteria, on the main road connecting KM 4 junction with the MIA Airport Gate. At least seven people were killed, and ten others injured in the explosion. It is unclear at this stage what was the intended target of the suicide bomber. However, due to the day of the week, Friday, time and location it seems the attack was designed to inflict a maximum of civilian casualties. AS claimed the attack hours after it happened.

This week, the Nov 24 gruesome murder of seven members of the same family by AS militants in Wajid, Bakool province, stands out in terms of public horror and number of casualties. Testimony to the impact on public reaction was the uncommon criticism of the killings by media outlets usually supportive of AS and the group's narrative. The owner of the residence was a member of the SWSPF security forces. Among the victims were women and children.

In Mogadishu the total figure of reported incidents increased by one from seven to eight. Three HG incidents were reported, one on Nov 21 and two on Nov 23 targeting a security forces checkpoint in Dayniile District and a SNA dismounted patrol in Dharkenley District respectively. The third HG instance occurred on Nov 23 and involved a reportedly drunk SNA soldier detonating a HG inside his home, in the Ali Kamin area of Wardhigley District. It is unclear if the explosion was intended or accidental, however, a number of the soldier's immediate family members were killed and injured in the incident. Three crime instances occurred on Nov 22 and Nov 25, all of them involving the shooting and killing of civilians by unidentified assailants who escaped from the scene before the arrival of security forces. No group claimed the killings and no clear reason was offered, however given the fact that two of the victims were taxi drivers and two others were employees of the Banadir Electricity Company, extortion and robbery can not be excluded. On Nov 24, in a green on green incident, security forces manning a checkpoint in Karan District engaged in a 15-minute firefight with security forces escorting a Khat consignment, when the latter attempted to force their way through the checkpoint. Over the period Sep 26 to Nov 24, this is the sixth green on green incident reported in Mogadishu, with an average of one every ten days.

Southern Somalia, with 19 out of 23 terrorism related incidents, continues to be the focus of AS activity, accounting for 82% of the overall number of incidents.

Lower Shabelle recorded 12 incidents compared with last week's nine, marking an increase in activity. Four SAF attacks against SNA and AMISOM positions in Janaale, Barawe, Qoryoley and Buulo Mareer, all occurred on Nov 24. All four SAF incidents were probing attacks concluding with the militants withdrawing after firefights not exceeding 30 minutes in duration. On Nov 21 and Nov 24, RPGs were used to initiate the probing attacks followed up with SAF, against SNA positions in Janaale and Awdheegle respectively. Both attacks concluded with the militants withdrawing from the area after brief engagements with the security forces. On Nov 23 and on Nov 25, AS militants targeted with IEDs Danab special forces in the vicinity of Balidogle airfield, and Haramcad paramilitary police in the Elasha Biyaha area. Three CQA incidents occurred on Nov 21, Nov 23 and Nov 25, resulting in the killings of security forces members and of one clan elder and former electoral delegate. All three assassinations were claimed by AS and on all three occasions the perpetrators escaped from the scene. Of note, the Nov 21 and Nov 23 CQAs occurred in Elasha Biyaha, area, which has witnessed an uptick in AS related incidents compared to the first half of 2020. On Nov 20, in the only IDF attack within the period, AS militants fired six mortar rounds against a SNA base in Barawe. The IDF was followed by a brief SAF engagement followed by the militants withdrawing from the area.

Bay and Bakool provinces recorded four incidents, a marked decrease in activity compared to the nine recorded incidents of the previous period. Two crimes, one SAF and one RPG initiated attack, all claimed by AS. The gruesome murder of Nov 24, that took place in Wajid, Bakool has already been discussed in the introduction. On Nov 23, in the Qurac Jome area, on the Ethiopian border, AS militants burned seven trucks awaiting a SNA escort before moving to Hudur. No casualties were reported, and the incident is part of the AS campaign of restricting and discouraging access to goods and commercial activities in government-controlled areas. SAF and RPG initiated attacks that occurred on Nov 25 were directed against security forces positions in Makuudo, seven kilometres southwest of Baidoa, and the Tawfik area of Baidoa respectively.

Jubaland State recorded activity remained constant at four incidents. Two crimes, on Nov 24 and Nov 25, both involving JSF soldiers shooting in the first instance a civilian woman in Kismayo, respectively and a fellow soldier in Abdale Birole, respectively. On Nov 22, in a green on green incident, two groups of soldiers stationed at the Dollow airfield, in Gedo, engaged in a brief firefight over unknown reasons. The only AS reported incident in Jubaland occurred on Nov 24, in Jilib, when the militants kidnapped ten local traders over unclear reasons. Of note that Jilib is under AS control, part of their Middle Juba core area in which the group is attempting its simulacrum of governance.

Central Somalia recorded activity significantly decreased from 11 to six incidents. Two instances of clan related violence occurred on Nov 21 and Nov 24, in the Mataban area, east of Beledweyne, both involving armed militias of the Hawadle and Habargedir sub clans. On Nov 22, AS militants killed a Macawisley militia leader in Quracley, 18 kilometres south west of Jalalaqsi. In the same incident, another Macawisley leader was reportedly kidnaped. Attacks against security forces positions were reported on Nov 23 and Nov 25, in Beledweyne employing a HG, in Jalalaqsi with RPGs and SAF, and in Bulo-Burto with SAF.

In northern Somalia, Somaliland reported two incidents. On Nov 22, in Ceel area, ten kilometres east of Caynabo, an eighteen years old woman was raped and killed, and two suspects were later arrested by the security forces. In a related development, on Nov 24, hundreds of people protested in Caynabo, asking for justice to be enforced on the murder suspects arrested on Nov 22. No casualties were reported when the police forces intervened and dispersed the protesters.

Puntland reported a single incident. On Nov 20, unidentified assailants attacked with a HG a security forces checkpoint in the vicinity of Shaariqah Hotel, in the northern Israac area of Galkayo. No arrests were made as the attackers escaped from the scene; however, the security forces killed one civilian and injured another one with indiscriminate SAF in the aftermath of the HG explosion.

On the political front, the reporting continues to be dominated by issues related to the upcoming national electoral process. The opposition presidential candidate consultations which started on Nov 21 at the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu concluded on Nov 26. The event was scheduled to last only three days, however it extended to six days and concluded with a joint statement. Within the statement, the opposition demanded that the federal government and the federal member states dissolve their already appointed electoral commissions and, in addition, the appointment of the electoral commission in charge of organizing and supervising the election of the 54 MPs representing Somaliland in the federal Parliament is entrusted with the Speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi. In the same statement, demands were made for the resignation of NISA Director Fahad Yasin and for the SNA forces to be withdrawn from Gedo region. So far, the opposition stance and demands have not yet met with a response from the International Community, Federal Member States, nor the FGS.

If no changes intercede, the electoral process timetable should see the appointment of federal and regional electoral commissions completed by Nov 30, followed by the election of the members of the Upper House of the Parliament between Dec 01 and Dec 10 and the election of the members of the Lower House of the Parliament between Dec 10 and Dec 27. The Presidential electoral process is still scheduled to take place in Feb 2021.

Last update: November 28, 2020

Terrorism

Severe

The Somali National Army (SNA) and regional African Union Mission in Somalia are conducting a joint offensive to secure supply routes in southern Somalia. The SNA is unlikely to retake significant territorial control or obtain full responsibility for security operations during 2020. Al-Shabaab fighters are likely to target pro-Islamic State forces in the northeastern Puntland state. However, the Islamic State's presence is unlikely to be completely eradicated, with its operations being geographically limited and focused on assassination of commercial and government personnel. Bosaso port is likely an aspirational target for both groups. IED attacks in Mogadishu occur at least monthly, targeting the airport, hotels, police stations, and government buildings.

Last update: September 15, 2020

Crime

Foreigners, including aid workers, and journalists are very likely to be targeted by jihadist militants and violent criminals throughout southern Somalia, even when they are escorted by armed guards in the capital, Mogadishu. Jihadists also engage in the extortion of businesses and development projects in the capital and typically assassinate business persons and damage property as a means of enforcement. Aviation operating from Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu has previously been targeted by person-borne IEDs. Somalia has no effective national laws or policing measures to counter organised criminal activity.

Last update: December 3, 2019

War Risks

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is undertaking arbitration at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a maritime boundary dispute with Kenya. If the ICJ rules in Somalia's favour, Kenya is very unlikely to escalate militarily by seizing oil blocks located within the disputed 150,000-square-kilometre area. The next ICJ hearing is on 4–8 June 2020. Following the escape of the Jubaland regional state security minister from federal custody, he and around two hundred of his fighters fought against Somali National Army troops in Gedo region. If the security minister travels to Jubaland's regional capital, Kismayo, there will be an increased risk of small-arms fire to aircraft at Kismayo airport.

Last update: March 6, 2020

Social Stability

High

Rivalries between 1,000-member militias from the Ogaden and Marehan clans likely will escalate in Jubaland state following the disputed re-election of the regional president in August 2019, should the Federal Government of Somalia reschedule elections or detain regional President Ahmed Mohamed. Although both scenarios are very unlikely, each would trigger protests outside government buildings in Kismayo – including at the airport – likely involving edged weapons and small-arms in fighting with security forces. If the Jubaland security minister returned to regional capital Kismayo after fighting Somali National Army (SNA) troops in Gedo region, there would be an increased likelihood of small-arms fighting between SNA and Jubaland troops at Kismayo airport.

Last update: March 6, 2020

Health Risk

Extreme

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all individuals traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Very high

Roads throughout the country are in poor condition as they are generally neither maintained nor lit at night and traffic lights are rare. As such, driving can be a dangerous activity; it is advisable to avoid all road travel after nightfall. Additionally, landmines and IEDs are an ever present danger.

Illegal roadblocks, highway banditry, and other violent crime can occur at any time in any locality. When traveling by car, doors should be locked and windows rolled-up. 

All road travel should be undertaken with an armed escort, in a convoy, and in an all-terrain vehicle. Always travel with sufficient stocks of water, food, and fuel, as well as the necessary equipment to deal with breakdowns (spare tire, jumper cables, etc.). Always carry an effective means of communication and back-up.

Operations at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) are regularly suspended with little to no warning. Additionally, the airport and aircraft operating out of it are susceptible to attack, as was the case in February 2016, when a bomb was smuggled onto a flight. Security procedures and checks have been enhanced at MGQ; however, the fact that a bomb was able to be carried onto the plane in the first place indicates Al-Shabaab may have agents employed within the facility.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Cuts to water services and power outages are common across the country.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Somalia has an arid climate which is slightly more temperate along the coast.

There are two rainy seasons, from March to May and again from September to December. The air is very hot and dry between December and February. In the north, temperatures are generally higher than in the rest of the country and the region also receives less rain. The coastal regions are very dry. During the summer months, monsoon winds bring slightly lower temperatures.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +252

There are no emergency services in Somalia.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019